Home to some of the most beautiful members of the insect world.
The insect life has been very much under-recorded here on the Commons and, whilst seeing the butterflies and moths, wasps and bees, dragonflies and damselflies, is incredibly encouraging, the insects hidden away that we don't see are equally important to the ecology of the Commons.
The last few years have seen us start to record all the wildlife on the Commons and we are starting to build a much better picture of the insect life that lives here.
Over the years 24 species of butterflies have been identified in the Commons. That's half of the 58 species that can generally be found in the UK. Summer time sees a surge in Meadow Browns and all common grass and woodland species can be found. More unusual species such as the Purple and White-letter Hairstreaks can also be seen floating gently around the Commons.
23 species have been recorded during 2015, with the highlight being a White Admiral in July.
Did you know there are a few more day-flying moths in the UK than there are butterflies!? Just over 60 compared to the 58 butterflies.
Considered by many to be annoying little creatures that fly around your lights, there are some 2,500 species of moths in the UK alone. So far in 2015, 493 of these have been recorded on the Commons, including some species that are scarce. The Double Line, for example, in the South East is only found here on the Commons and in Richmond Park.
Double Line moth
Dragonflies and Damselflies
Wimbledon Common has earned a reputation as one of the best dragonfly and damselfly sites in London. This is down to sightings of airborne beauties such as the aptly named Hairy Dragonfly Brachytron pratense, one of the smallest hawker dragonflies and recorded just 20 years ago for the first time.
16 species have been recorded this year:
Large red damselfly
Common blue damselfly
Wimbledon Common is designated a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) because it provides an outstanding habitat for Stag Beetles. Although widespread throughout the South East, they are extremely rare, if not extinct, across the rest of Britain. The People’s Trust for Endangered Species has reported that there is persisting anecdotal evidence suggesting that actual numbers are declining in many areas.
Growing to some 35-75mm long, an adult beetle’s head and thorax (middle section) are shiny black in colour and its wing cases are chestnut brown and they have large antler-like mandibles. They emerge from mid-May onwards and females are often seen on the ground looking for somewhere to lay their eggs, whereas the males are likely to be seen flying during the late afternoon/early evening looking for a mate.
If you spot any on the Commons, please make a note of the time and location, and give us a call or send us an e-mail with the details. Peter, our Wildlife and Conservation Officer, will be delighted to hear from you!
False Click Beetle
The Commons hit the headlines in 2015 when the Natural History Museum (NHM) confirmed that a globally scarce False Click beetle had been found on the Commons. Dr Max Barclay, who manages the NHM's 10 million strong beetle collection, said: “To find such a species at Wimbledon Common shows that the Conservators are taking good care of the site, and managing it for wildlife, and that there are old important trees there that can support populations of rare insects.”
Keita Matsumoto, who found the insect, said: "It was a lucky shot. I'm pleased I was swinging my insect net that afternoon instead of my tennis racquet."
Such validation of our conservation work is encouraging, and shows the importance of regular monitoring.
The iridescent longhorn beetle, commonly known as the Musk beetle Aromia moschata whose larvae are found in decaying wood, also calls the plush habitat home.